by Wake Up Call
May 12, 2010

During my quarter century tenure at CT DEP, in addition to preparing the first Type A ecological damage assessment claims in Connecticut history for oil spills to Long Island Sound, I often inspected underground storage tank facilities. When checking gasoline dispensers for compliance with safety components, the first device on the list was a "shear valve," an inexpensive device which automatically closed connections to thousands of gallons of pressurized gasoline which otherwise would pump to the surface when a vehicle crashed into a dispenser. Without such devices, demolished pumps would spew gasoline into the environment and create inevitable conditions for infernos and explosions. Nationally, many gasoline distributors did not want to install such safety devices, but regulators, such as I, held our ground. The country is safer for it.

As the oil "spill" in the Gulf remains unabated at 4 million gallons, we must consider that BP is not the only responsible party in this environmental tragedy. Democrats and Republicans in congress also have conspired against the marine and coastal ecosystems, not only for the Gulf, but for the Atlantic, as well. Congealed oil continues to sink into the water column and follow the Gulf Stream north creating an unprecedented liability. The U.S. and Great Britain could well be taken into receivership for hemispheric reparations. All this could have been avoided if democrats and republicans in congress put the ecology, or anything else for that matter, ahead of getting re-elected. As required by Norway, Brazil and most other coastal nations, acoustic blow out valves are required to be installed in any and all off-shore drilling rigs within their waters. Our congressional incumbents could have mandated that BP and other oil corporations install acoustic blow out valves on the thousands of offshore drilling wells that crowd our coastal waterways. Devices comparable in function to shear valves on gasoline dispensers. BP and other oil corporations successfully petitioned against such requirements, arguing that the $400,000 devices were "too expensive." Not nearly as expensive I suggest, as their biennial congressional campaign donations to receive such favorable, and ultimately, devastating exemptions. Perhaps, we cannot sue incumbent democrats and republicans to indemnify their ecological and economic damages or to redress their willful negligence, but we can surely vote them out on their environmentally deaf ears come November. Judge Underhill's recent landmark decision in New Haven on the unconstitutionality of Connecticut campaign finance clearly demonstrates there are neither major nor minor political parties. But there are two parties whose elections and decisions are financed by the corporate and Wall Street dime. They are America's "toxic parties."

G. Scott Deshefy
Lebanon, CT

Scott Deshefy is the 2010 Green Party candidate for U.S. House of Representatives in the 2nd CT Congressional District